We are so focused on what we want, what we are doing, where we are going, and how events impact us, that we fail to be aware of how we are impacting those around us and our own walk with the Lord.
Recently I studied some wonderful material from Falls Baptist Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, that encouraged believers to pray one hour a day. There was a section set aside for confession of sin; that was to be expected. But as part of that discipline, on a certain day of the week you were asked to examine yourself for the sinful habit of being self-focused. When I came to that phrase, the Holy Spirit instructed me to stop and think. It was a “Selah” moment in my life.
Since that morning, I have pondered that often we are so self-focused that we lose the ability to be self-aware. By that I mean that we are so focused on what we want, what we are doing, where we are going, and how events impact us, that we fail to be aware of how we are impacting those around us and our own walk with the Lord. It is all about me, my goal, my desire, my perspective, my life! I wonder how many of our prayers are unanswered because they are meant to bend God’s will for our purpose not discover His will on the matter. Oswald Chambers said in My Utmost for His Highest, “Think of the last thing you prayed about— were you devoted to your desire or to God? Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God?” The self-focused person puts his trust in himself to know best, and then in prayer sets about to convince the Lord.
Not only does self-focused thinking impact our walk with the Lord, it also impacts our relationships with others.
The self-focused person is so absorbed in his own outcomes, that he is unaware of how his behavior is impacting others. I think of James and John, who selfishly desired power and promotion for themselves. They asked for the most prestigious and powerful positions in Jesus' kingdom, not to be a blessing to others, but to have their own egos satisfied. The other apostles were greatly distressed at their actions, but it seems that James and John had given little thought to what the others thought or how they were affected. They wanted what they wanted and were willing to alienate themselves from their brethren in order to get it.
When life is all about me, I can be totally unaware of how I am confusing, discouraging, and even hurting others.
The life of a believer is to be lived in the opposite way. In response to James and John’s self-focused request, Jesus said this: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”( Matthew 13:27-28) We lead servants’ lives, and the life of the servant is never self-focused. We focus on our Lord Jesus and serve others. The servant is ever others-focused and always aware of how his words and actions impact them. The wonderful result is that Jesus exalts the servant!
It is not about my way, my good, my reputation, my winning, my promotion, my pleasure, my perspective, my stuff, my plans, my goals, my happiness - do you get the point? It is about serving Jesus by being others focused and completely dependent upon God!
Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: